Sunday, 31 May 2015

Add some ginger to your summer deserts

Introducing Cooking Essentials from The Ginger People

Nobody does ginger like The Ginger People! For over three decades they have been perfecting the craft of all things gingery, responsibly sourcing their key ingredient via direct partnering with ginger farmers and producers from some of the world's best ginger growing regions.

And 2015 sees the UK launch of their EU Organic Certified Ginger Cooking Essentials range, a delicious assortment of culinary treats, guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds!

Organic Ginger Syrup.
• Ginger-infused syrup for beverages, breakfast toppings, desserts, stir-fry’s and glazes for your BBQ meats.
• Very versatile, and also makes a great hot soothing drink!
• Gluten and fat-free, and certified organic and Kosher
• 237ml RRP £3.79

In addition to its delicious taste, ginger also has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Modern research confirms its effectiveness in relieving symptoms of nausea, vomiting, indigestion and dizziness.

The Cooking Essentials range from The Ginger People is available from independent health stores, fine food stores, garden centres, farm shops and delicatessens’ nationwide.

Wow! The That's Food and Drink taste test team were very impressed with this organic ginger syrup.

It was tried in hot drinks (a ginger, hot chocolate and cinnamon drink that really kicked the taste buds into high gear!)  as an ingredient in a hot ginger pudding, as a pouring sauce for ice cream or as a cheeky addition to a cocktail or even stirred into plane yoghurt, it will add pep and fun to your summer dining experiences!

We can heartily recommend this ginger sauce.

Gin and Tonic cocktails

One of the temptations when you are mixing cocktails for a barbecue is to go too far one way or the other.

By that I mean you either put too much alcohol in the cocktail or you go to the other extreme and use far too much mixer.

Either way the drink will not satisfy your guests and too much alcohol and a barbecue certainly do not make a good combination. I remember the shriek of pain when the guest of honour at a barbecue party was so drunk that she felt the need to steady herself, by putting her hand on the hot barbecue, which certainly put a dampener on the evening.

So, what can you do? Buy pre-mixed cocktails. They come in cans or bottles and both Gordons Gin and Bloom and Fentimans are both widely available.

It's also better to have these drinks rather than jugs of drink kept outside as they can attract flies and in order to keep them cool you will have to add copious amounts of ice, this further diluting the cocktail.

With the Gordons and Bloom Gins readymade cocktails you can keep them in a drinks fridge until your guests are ready to drink them. After all, what is the point of serving warm drinks with guests trying to rescue flies from their glasses?

Go for readymade cocktails so that you can concentrate on cooking and serving up the food!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Fruit teas from Whittard

Sometimes only a fruit tea will do.

But if you are entertaining guests and you want to offer them s real fruit tea experience, it's no good just grabbing something from the supermarket, you have to treat your guests with respect.

Far, far too many fruit teas taste like they are nothing more than a couple of tea leaves, a few chemical flavourings, a dollop of cheap corn syrup and some bitter-tasting artificial sweeter. Which, sadly, if you study the ingredients list, you'll probably find that is, in reality, what they are, pretty much.

But! It doesn't have to be this way!

Get yourself along to your nearest Whittard branch (or visit their website) and find yourself some of the best fruit teas that you will ever have the pleasure of serving to your guests or of drinking yourself.

Recently, iced tea and fruit infusion drinks are becoming a big trend for this summer.

And Whittard has recently launched its ice TEA-JAY – a unique product for creating delicious fruity drinks and cocktails (yes, you can even add alcohol if you fancy!), as well as a number of fruit infusion flavours like Very Berry and Apple and Elderflower.

We have had the pleasure of trying the fruit teas from this range and have to report that they are utterly superb!

That they have no trace of chemical flavourings, no nasty artificials and just the delicious tastes of the fruits of nature.

Ideal for your summer barbecue, your after dinner drinks in the conservatory or with your al fresco Sunday lunch, on your picnic (just chill and put it in a vacuum flask) or whenever and wherever takes your fancy.

You can order from Whittard on line at

Castello Burger Blue cheese declared "Best blue cheese ever!"

In order to give the slices of Castello Blue Cheese a good trial my wife prepared some homemade beef burgers.

Castello Burger Blue cheese is a recently launched product, based on Castello's extremely popular Extra Creamy Danish Blue cheese.

It is aimed to be the perfect compliment to the barbecue beef burgers this summer. (If we have a summer!)

After my wife prepared the burgers she placed slices of the Castello Burger Cheese on them and gave them a quick burst in the microwave and we at the cheese-topped burgers with a nice salad with some extra virgin olive oil as the dressing.

My wife's verdict: "This is the best blue cheese I have ever tasted!"

As my wife is a long time fan of blue cheeses of a wide variety of types and styles, this is high praise indeed!

Just ask for it as your cheesemonger or supermarket or visit

Be a barbecue season hero with a garden curry in a hurry!

You can be the barbecue chef sensation of your entire neighbourhood when the delicious scent of your barbecue curry wafts throughout the neighbourhood.

What you need to do is to get a large pan and place it on the gas burner of your barbecue. The gas burner you have probably only ever used once to cook some barbecued baked beans, but haven't used since.

Into the pan place some pre-cooked chicken or turkey breast chunks (the chilled food sections in supermarkets like Morrison or Tesco are ideal for buying these) and then stir in a bag of Our Little Secret Tikka Lababdar sauce and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you wish you can add a pot of plain yoghurt, or some crème fraîche and ensure that it is stirred in well.

Serve up with a side salad and perhaps some pre-cooked rice, if you wish. (For speed of preparation, buy a couple of bags of microwave rice.)

You can also use naan breads or, if you want to know my secret, just use plain pita breads instead of naan breads, should you have some in the freezer.

The above recipe works equally well with any other of the spicy and testy sauces from the Our Little Secret range, and it means that (with the That's Food ad Drink cheat as described above) you will have one of the most tasty barbecue meals ever, with the minimum amount of fuss, very little preparation time and only one pot being used.

However, if you want to really push the boat out, why not try these recipes kindly supplied by the folks at Our Little Secret?

Our Little Secret Summer Recipes

Tikka Meatballs with Coconut Rice

Serves: 4-5

Preparation time: 10 minutes

 Cooking time: 20 minutes

Add meatballs to a Tikka Masala Dine-In Kit and experience an awesome
twist on Britain's favourite curry.


- 1 tablespoon olive oil

- 10 meatballs of your choice

- 1 Our Little Secret Tikka Masala Dine-In Kit

- Desiccated coconut for garnish

- 1 chopped chilli

Preparation Method:

1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the meatballs until golden brown.

2. Add the dry spices from the dine-in kit and sauté gently for 2-3

3. Add the contents of the paste sachet and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

4. Then add the Tikka Masala sauce and simmer for 5-6 minutes ensuring that the meatballs are fully cooked and the sauce thickens to a desired consistency.

5. Make a 2-3 cm tear in the rice pouch and microwave on full power for 2 minutes.

6. Garnish the rice with desiccated coconut.

7. Add chopped chillies to add heat.

8. Serve hot and enjoy!

Chunky Makhani Vegetable Broth

Serves: 4-5

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes


- Our Little Secret Makhani cook-in sauce

- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

- Shallots

- 1 crushed garlic clove

- 125g trimmed fine green beans

- 1 large diced sweet potato

- 175g baby corn, halved lengthways

- 375g small cauliflower, broken into small florets

- 400g drained lentils

- Water

Preparation Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic for 5-6 minutes, until softened.

2. Stir in the curry paste and fry for 2 minutes.

3. Add beans, potato, corn and cauliflower to water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

4. Season to taste and add the Our Little Secret Makhani cook-in sauce and lentils. Simmer for 5-6 minutes until warmed through.

5. Add a little water to make the broth.

6. Enjoy by itself or with naan bread. Alternatively, you can add soup bread into the dish.

Sauces are available in Morrisons and other supermarkets and food outlets.

Wheyhey Ice cream. Tastier and better for you.

Wheyhey Ice Cream. I don't know... maybe it is because I am now starting to realise that I am knocking on a little bit, but Wheyhey Ice Cream reminds me of the delicious ice creams of my childhood.

Wheyhey Ice Creams are all 100% natural, they have not a scrap of gluten in them, are sugar free, are low in fat and high in protein.

So they are eminently suitable for vegetarians and also diabetics, too. (And being able to enjoy a desert or a treat without worrying too much about what my blood sugar levels are at is a great boon, believe me!)

They are the perfect treat for an after barbecue desert or for when you are cuddling up together on the sofa watching a documentary about narrow boat restoration. (That's what floats our boat, my wife and I, but if you want to eat your tubs of Wheyhey -a cute little spoon is also included!- whilst watching a romantic film, then go for it!)

Flavours we tried were Banana toffee, vanilla and strawberry, all of which were equally delicious and wonderfully smooth.

To learn more please visit them at

Where can you get it?

You can order it Order online at Ocado and Musclefood and it should also be available at Holland and Barrett, Wholefoods, As Nature Intended, GNC, Revital, Nuffield Health and it's also now available at Odeon Cinemas, too!

New sauce to complement your summer foods

There's a delicious new sauce which will be the absolutely perfect complement to your summertime barbecue foods and also your salads.

It's based on the famed Irish Stout, Guinness.

It is a rich and dark sauce which has a deep, intense flavour that is, in my opinion, unique.

The combination of flavours is delightful as you can detect the Guinness as well as the malt within the Guinness.

Most table sauces that are available are, by and large, variations on a theme. All fruit sauces taste, pretty much, very similar to every other fruit sauce.

However, in my opinion, Guinness Sauce is unlike all other types of table sauce that I have ever tried before. It is vastly different and, instead of adding or changing the flavour of the food, Guinness Sauce complements and enhances your food.

It's ideal for freshly cooked meats, ideal for cold cuts and/or cheese with a salad, slices of pie and the like. It even goes well with your Sunday roast, too! You can use it to coat the meat (steaks, burgers, lamb, etc) before cooking, have it in a sauce boat for the table or even cook some in to your gravy!

It's a versatile sauce. As versatile as your imagination.

Ask for it in your local Tesco store, as it is an exclusive offering at Tesco.

Chilled Coffee? That's an Almond Breeze!

I like chilled AKA iced coffee but I sometimes feel that my little indulgence is not quite so little, as they are usually loaded with what people describe as empty calories.

That was, however, until I discovered Blue Diamond Almonds Almond Breeze Iced Coffee.

It's a dairy free product and is completely free from any dairy products lactose or eggs, so is perfectly OK for vegetarians and vegans and those of us who are lactose intolerant.

I was able to try two flavours, Cappuccino and also Mocha.

Both tasted really good and there was a different taste to it than one gets with milk-based iced coffees, but that wasn't a bad thing, as some iced coffees can be a little cloying and tend to put my teeth on edge, as it were. Not so with Blue Diamonds iced coffee, both varieties were keen and clean about the taste!

The Cappuccino is only 29 calories and the Mocha comes in at 30 calories, so it's another of those guilt free treats that are now available to those of us who care about such things.

To learn more visit the website at

And don't forget the Almond snacks, the BBQ flavour variety did not last long!

Now free from fans can live their Dream!

Yes, now free from fans can live their Dream!

Let's face it, most people who seek out free from food do so because, like my wife, they have food allergies and food intolerances, so their only dream, if you can describe it as such, is to be able to enjoy the same kinds of foods that everyone else can indulge in without having intestinal cramps, bloating, migraines or severe joint pains, skin rashes or the like.

For years free from foods were only ever available from specialist retailers, looked odd, cost the earth, had the texture of par-boiled cardboard and tasted like nothing you had ever tasted before, but not in a good way.

But the times they are a changing, free from foods have now hit the mainstream and the recipes that are being produced are designed by chefs who care about the meals and deserts that they produce.

A perfect example of this is Almond Dream dairy free ice cream.

They come in the following flavours, Velvety Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Praline Crunch and Mint Chocolate Chip.

And they actually do taste like ice cream. No! Really! They do!

My wife said: "It's obviously not dairy based, but the taste of each flavour is really very, very good indeed."

We both agreed that each ice cream flavour we tried was creamy and had a good texture. It also had a good mouthfeel, and that's not something all mainstream ice creams can manage to do, so it is a genuine achievement, believe me!

My wife favours the vanilla, I loved both the Praline Crunch and the Salted Caramel. I favoured the Pralines but (pun, though weak, but intended) I have always been a little nuts for praline.

My wife didn't try the chocolate mint variety as she is allergic to chocolate. So, that was my job, then! Not that I complained, as it was a perfect rendition of a mint chocolate chip ice cream.

And for those of us who like to watch our fat and saturates intakes, they have about half the fat compared to other types of ice cream and roughly 10% of the saturates. And only 70% of the calorific value, too, which can't be bad!

They are also highly suited to vegetarians and vegans, too.

You should find them in Waitrose and Morrisons branches at £4.99 per 472ml. If they are not in your local branch ask the manager to make certain that they are available.

To learn more about the dairy free options available from Dream visit their website at

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Are there too many chillies in commercial available products?

Are there too many chillies in commercially available products?

I ask this question because my wife recently bought a bottle of alcoholic ginger beer in a high end supermarket that we we visiting. It was a drink that was exclusive to them.

When we got home she started drinking her ginger beer but after a few sips she said: "There's something wrong with this ginger beer! It's making my lips burn!"

She read the ingredients and found in small lettering that as well as ginger the recipe contained chilli peppers.

My wife does not cope well with chillies as she has a food intolerance problem as they have a bad impact on her digestive system.

Why on earth would anyone want to add a hot chilli to ginger beer?

The only reason that we could come up with was that ginger, especially good quality ginger, could be rather costly, whereas chilli  is far cheaper.

It's our guess that chilli is added to the ginger beer in order to make people's mouth's burn and their lips tingle, but hope that they wouldn't realise that this was nothing to do with the ginger but actually caused by the addition of cheaper "cheating" chilli.

After all as my wife said: "If they'd have been honest and called it: 'Ginger and Chilli Beer' I would have been able to avoid buying it."